The Air Out There

It’s been too long for people like us…

Yesterday the weather report called for rain. Lots of rain. Not just a sprinkle, but a torrential downpour. My partner and I looked at each other, “does that mean snow on the mountains?” We decided it did. Not knowing what we were going to be getting into we started to gather our gear for what we hoped would be a snow-filled outdoor adventure. We pulled out our brand new, as yet unused, snowshoes and attached them to our packs. My ever safety-conscious man prepared all of the necessary gear “just in case”. Weighed down with all that was deemed necessary, but buoyed with excitement for fun in the snow, we packed up the car and set out for the mountains.

Leaving the city, bathed in a soggy greyness, in the rearview mirror, we headed for the snowcapped mountains, a short 45 minute drive. After a quick gas station stop for some fuel for the car and for us, we began our ascent up the mountain. With every switch back, the visibility decreased as the foggy-thickness increased. Eventually we arrived at the top and could not see a few inches in front of our faces. The headlights of the cars and road bikes that were making the descent down the mountain were obscured by the fog, casting a diffuse glow and making the visibility even worse with the reflection. We were right, it was definitely snowing, but despite our excitement and our ultimate desire to frolic in the white powder, it was not safe to traverse the trails of the mountain. Frustration and disappointment were threatening to open the door and cozy up in between us. There was no question that we were turning around, but there was also no question that we needed to find a trail, any trail, it was a necessity. He looked at me with a question in his eyes, I nodded my head and we started back down the mountain.

Competing demands with work, family, friends, and projects, coupled with navigating a smooth course through our newish relationship, had prevented us from getting out into the mountains, onto the trails and breathing the fresh air for far too long. Especially for people like us. We need the air, we need the quiet, we need the solace and the connection that comes hand and hand with the mountain terrain. We need to recharge our batteries. We were well past due.

Arriving at the trailhead for our alternate route, we were overdressed and over prepared, but itching to get out and hike…to walk, to traipse through the mud, our only alternative to snow. Adjusting our gear and donning our backpacks we started out on the trail. Within moments, the stress, aggravation, frustration, angst and irritation began to melt away. All of those unnecessary emotions that we had been carrying with us for the previous few weeks falling off us, like the leaves from the trees. I don’t know that we were even aware of the weight we were carrying as we went through each and every day.

The day started late. Almost too late, especially with the last minute change of locale and the dark descending earlier these days. But we didn’t let that stop us, instead we simply prepared for the work ahead of us. There is truth in the saying, it’s the journey and not the destination, it was the journey that we craved yesterday. The work. We climbed hills, traversed rivers, crawled up and along tree roots, all the while working out whatever it was that was plaguing us in our own minds and in our unified consciousness. The physical exercise matched by the mental release and spiritual recharge.

As we chattered and mused our way back out of the trail, it did indeed get dark. Armed with headlamps and a flashlight, the dark didn’t make any difference. In fact, it only added to the adventure and the challenge. Back at the car, spent and unburdened, he mused, “the rain…it never came.” It often doesn’t.

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